2006 STS Conference Poster Session


ACRL Science and Technology Section

Kaleidoscope of Scientific Literacy:
Fusing New Connections

Monday, June 26, 2006

Reception and Poster Session:
11:30 - 12:30

Following the STS Program, the Program and Research Committees invite you to attend the STS Reception and Poster Session. The Research Committee has invited eight groups of authors to present posters on topics of interest to Science and Technology Librarians.



Science Friction: Overcoming Staff Resistance to Science Questions at the Reference Desk
Kimberly Chapman, University of Texas at San Antonio Library

Science librarians have creative, collaborative programs that teach science information literacy skills to students, but when those students visit the Reference Desk for further assistance, who assists them? What if your institution doesn't have a separate science library? What if the subject bibliographer is not available? How do library staff successfully answer science questions at a general academic library reference desk?

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Library Reference Department provides services at UTSA, a rapidly-growing institution. UTSA enrolls more than 27,000 students in over 121 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Reference service is provided at two general reference desks, via phone, email and virtual reference. Three librarians are bibliographers in the sciences and engineering, selecting materials and teaching library sessions for those subject-specific classes.

The Reference Desk is staffed by librarians and paraprofessionals who field questions across all subject areas. It is important that they feel comfortable answering basic science questions and can answer questions accurately. Incorporating science information resources into both new employee training and ongoing staff development is key to ensuring that staff can handle students' basic inquiries without panicking and thinking "Oh no! A science question - let me run to get the Chemistry bibliographer!"

This session describes different training methods used in an ongoing staff training program to improve service to students with science questions, presents staff perceptions of science questions, and asks "When is the science librarian the only one who can answer this student's question?"


Teaching Critical Thinking and Library Skills to Students at a Medium-sized Public University
Annie Zeidman-Karpinski, University of Oregon

My poster will talk about how I developed a hands-on learning curriculum to accompany a 145 student Introduction to Chemistry class. This class is a prerequisite for a number of other classes and doesn’t have a lab component. The 1 credit discussion section as a critical thinking class was conceived after I took the course myself. Developing the smaller sections took considerable collaboration with the instructor and drew upon other library information literacy classes. None of it would have been possible without the trust developed between the professor and myself, which was a byproduct of having been a student myself in her classroom.

The primary objective of the class is to prepare the students for the task of writing a life-cycle assessment of a topic of their choosing. Meant as an introduction to scientific literacy, the class will cover how to search more effectively, how to evaluate sources and how to read peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. Students will be encouraged to share research strategies with each other, creating a lab like learning environment.

Topics of particular interest the poster will cover:

  • Developing faculty relationships
  • Structure of the class (syllabus and assignments)
  • Assessment tools used to evaluate learning outcomes

Poster -  Handout



Science for the Non-scientist: Science Information Literacy for Everyone
Kara M. Whatley, New York University Bobst Library

Being able to understand and evaluate scientific information is an important and useful skill for all information consumers, especially for non-scientists who are bombarded with scientific information each day in television news reports and newspaper headlines. But how can librarians best present science information literacy skills to science-for-the-non-scientist classes? The approach covered in this poster uses an annotated bibliography assignment coupled with an in-class presentation to bring these skills to students. These assignments work together to teach students not only how to search the science literature but also how to critically evaluate information sources and how to synthesize that information and communicate it to their fellow students. The effectiveness of this method of conferring science information literacy skills in two science-for-the-non-scientist courses taught at New York University will be discussed.



Taking the Fusion Reaction beyond the Reactor's Walls
Adriana Popescu, Princeton University Library

The Furth Plasma Physics Library is a branch library of the Princeton University Library system, which supports the research and educational activities of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), a research laboratory funded by the US Department of Energy (DoE) and managed by Princeton University. In addition to its role in supporting the fusion energy research programs at the laboratory and at Princeton University, the library has also started playing an active role alongside the lab’s Science Education Program in promoting plasma physics and fusion energy educational resources to local schools and dynamically participates in the laboratory’s training activities offered to physics teachers (K-12) in the region. One unique contribution of the library to the PPPL Science Education Program is the enhancement of the physics curriculum by integrating information evaluation and library research elements. To complement these activities, the library has also created a digital collection of the early publications issued by the laboratory during 1951-1958, a period when fusion research was classified. The digital collection which is currently under development has historical and scientific significance and is freely available at:


By assisting teachers in the local community with professional development efforts and by creating original content to be incorporated in the physics curriculum, the Furth Plasma Physics Library is reaching out physically and digitally to a wider user community that can benefit from the library’s unique and specialized collections of historical fusion research materials and the staff’s expertise in integrating information literacy in the physics curriculum.

Poster -  Handout



New Collaboration Methods for Laboratory Liaisons
Nancy Allmang, Mylene Ouimette, and Lea Wade, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Three years ago the Information Services Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated a library-laboratory liaison program. In the program's early years the liaisons performed in-depth research and analyses, worked with researchers to build the collections, and addressed issues related to training and accessing resources. Since that time the program has expanded and liaisons have developed new and creative means of communicating with customers. This poster highlights some new collaboration methods. Liaisons have become "embedded" members of three formal scientific working groups, developed a comprehensive bibliography of over 1,100 customer-authored publications for the period 2000-2004, and procured direct funding to secure additional access to library resources in a field new to the organization. They've conducted two important surveys--one to identify core journals for 42 working units separately and for the organization as a whole, and the second a focus group assessment of 4 interdisciplinary groups whose information needs had been difficult to define. Other liaison projects: development of a unique analysis method to gauge the impact of publications authored by lab members, including proceedings papers and journal articles; collaboration with laboratories in assembling a timeline with descriptions of important achievements; consultation with lab members on the preparation of a major lab publication. Plans are currently under way to identify means of bringing cross-disciplinary researchers together for networking purposes, a need articulated by focus group participants.




Freshman Year Seminar: A Faculty-Librarian Collaboration
Katherine O'Clair, Arizona State University

This poster outlines the collaboration between the Life Sciences Librarian and a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University to teach a Freshman Year Seminar in Sociobiology during the Fall 2005 semester. The purpose of this seminar was to introduce incoming freshman students to the University and provide them with the skills and tools they would need to be successful in their educational endeavors, all within the context of the study of a scientific discipline. This seminar also provided an opportunity for a faculty member and a librarian to work together to integrate information literacy and information technology skills into the science-related curriculum. While most seminar courses are designed for upper-division students, this seminar allowed entering students to become familiar with the tools, technologies, and strategies that they would use in future classes. A strong emphasis was placed on the research process, and how to effectively gather, process, and use information. This poster will highlight the goals, expected outcomes, and instructional strategies of this Freshman Year Seminar, as well as discuss plans for a second offering of the seminar in Fall 2006.




Use of Digital Educational Resources in a Science Information Literacy Program
Barbara DeFelice, Dartmouth College

The National Science Digital Library (NSDL), and the subject oriented partner libraries such as DLESE (Digital Library for Earth Systems Education) and comPADRE (Resources for Physics and Astronomy Education), provide valuable resources for teaching faculty. Librarians need to become aware of the nature of these collections of resources so they can promote them and use them in library education partnerships with faculty. Of particular note are the resources which are linked to teaching concepts or that utilize real data sets and include tools that students can use to work with the data. Examples of ways to promote awareness and use of these collections, and to integrate NSDL resources in your science information literacy program, are given on this poster.




Scientific Literacy for the Everyday Consumer
Kimberly Babcock Mashek, Wartburg College

Everyone is a consumer of science information from watching the news to reading the newspaper, but most people believe that they don’t have the critical thinking skills to understanding scientific article. In this poster, I will show how to set up an information literacy assignment on teaching the critical thinking skills necessary for the layperson to understanding scientific literature. This poster is based on a lesson plan created by Jill Gremmels, a colleague at Wartburg College. For the lesson we work with the instructor to create a class assignment that requires students to compare a scientific journal article about a new discovery with a newspaper article announcing the same discovery. As a result of the assignment, students are able to:

  • Describe the process of scientific discovery;
  • Compare a popular article with a scholarly paper written by the scientist themselves;
  • Understand and paraphrase the gist of an article in the science journal;
  • Think critically about the similarities and differences in how scientific information is communicated to specialists and laypeople.

With this information literacy lesson, students are able to understand the scientific article better because of the hands on comparison. This lesson also helps us to reinforce the use of overview sources to help understand concepts and words that are specific to the scientific discipline and not used often in everyday life and gives us the chance to demonstrate electronic resources we have available in the library for basic research help.




Why are We Doing This? The Method of Science as an Organizing Principle for Teaching Information Literacy in Engineering
Wayne R. Montgomery, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Frequently engineering students cannot see the value of conducting a literature search in conjunction with a design problem. They believe their class lectures and textbooks have provided them with everything they need to know to solve a design problem, so why look in the published literature?

Librarians and faculty in the College of Engineering concluded that students had not had exposure to a model or illustration of the role of information resources in the research and development process. So, the librarian-faculty team developed a graduated program to introduce the processes of information literacy to engineering students at several stages in the engineering curriculum. The culminating information literacy experience being the literature review for their senior project. The controlling idea and foundation for this program engineering information literacy is built upon the methodology of science.

This poster presents the course content and support documents for the freshman level introduction to engineering information literacy. It illustrates the cycle of the method of science together with places in the cycle where communication and use of information sources take place. It also illustrates a literature review from actual engineering articles with an analysis of the function of each reference.

Last updated: Bastille Day, 2006

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